Is IV Sedation Safe?

A Comprehensive Guide for Dentists

Understanding IV Sedation: What Is It?

Intravenous (IV) sedation, also known as conscious moderate sedation, is a method used in dentistry to help patients who experience high levels of fear relax during dental procedures. It involves the administration of sedative drugs directly into the bloodstream, allowing for a deeper level of sedation compared to other methods. 

The safety of IV sedation is a common concern among dentists considering its implementation in their practice. However, with the right training, IV sedation is one of the safest ways to perform dentistry and allows for a much improved patient experience. With proper patient assessment and monitoring, the risk of complications is minimal.

Close-up of doctor putting an IV in to patient's arm

The Process of IV Sedation: How Does It Work?

The process of IV sedation begins with a thorough pre-procedure assessment of the patient’s medical history, current medications, and overall health status. This is crucial to identify any potential risks or contraindications. Once the patient is deemed suitable for IV sedation, a small needle is inserted into a vein, usually in the arm or hand, and the sedative drug is administered.

During the procedure, the patient’s vital signs are continuously monitored to ensure their safety. Although the patient remains conscious and able to respond to commands, they typically have little to no memory of the procedure. This “procedural amnesia” is one of the biggest benefits for the patient. After the procedure, the patient is monitored until the effects of the sedation have worn off. It’s important to note that patients should not drive or operate machinery for 24 hours following IV sedation.

Common Dental Procedures (and Patients) That Benefit from IV Sedation

IV sedation is particularly beneficial for complex or lengthy dental procedures such as wisdom teeth extraction, root canal treatment, and dental implant surgery.

It’s also advantageous for patients with severe dental anxiety, a strong gag reflex, medically-compromised, special needs, sensitive teeth, complex dental problems, previously traumatic experiences, scared of needles & shots, or difficulty getting numb from local anesthesia. 

By offering IV sedation, dentists can provide a more comfortable and stress-free experience for their patients. This not only improves patient satisfaction but also increases the likelihood of patients returning for future dental care, thereby enhancing the overall success of the dental practice.

How Does IV Sedation Dentistry Increase Production and Profits?

Implementing IV sedation in your dental practice can significantly increase production and profits. Firstly, it allows for the completion of complex procedures in fewer appointments, thereby increasing scheduling efficiency. Secondly, it attracts a wider range of patients, including those who may have avoided dental care due to fear or anxiety. 

Patients who have avoided the dentist for years have a higher patient production value than the average new patient since they are in need of more treatment. These are patients who will pre-pay, allowing you to increase collection rates and decrease your dependence on PPOs. 

The average dentist has a daily production goal between $4,500 to $5,000 (“Increase Practice Profitability by Tracking These Dental Metrics,” The Dental CFO; August 31, 2023). Meanwhile, the average IV sedation dentist, according to Vesper Institute, has a daily production goal closer to $11,000. With this increased production, it means the practice will also increase its profitability. 

Overall, IV sedation allows dentists to complete more treatment in one session, easily attract new patients, and charge a premium for the added comfort and convenience it provides.

What's The Difference Between Oral Sedation and IV Sedation?

Oral sedation involves the patient taking a sedative pill before the dental procedure. Meanwhile, IV sedation involves the administration of sedative drugs directly into the bloodstream. The main advantage of IV sedation over oral sedation is that it provides a deeper level of sedation and its effects are almost immediate. 

Furthermore, with IV sedation, the dentist has greater control over the level of sedation. It’s titratable and reversible. On the other hand,  oral sedation can be less predictable and the onset of sedation is slower. 

In conclusion, IV sedation is a safe and effective method of sedation. It offers numerous benefits for patients and dentists, including increased comfort, efficiency, and profitability.

As a dentist, implementing IV sedation in your practice could be a game-changer, helping you to provide superior patient care and grow your practice.


If you're interested in transforming your practice and career through the power of IV Sedation Dentistry, learn more about our training and certification.

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Midwest Center For Dental Education